May 23, 2024
Senators $32B AI Regulation Plan

Senators $32 Billion AI Regulation Plan

A proposed roadmap for artificial intelligence (AI) regulation was unveiled by four top Senators on Wednesday, calling for at least $32 billion to be spent each year for non-defense AI innovation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Mike Rounds (R-SD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Todd Young (R-IN), released the proposal after hosting AI Insight Forums to educate their colleagues about the technology. The forums featured AI experts, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, as well as academics, labor, and civil rights leaders.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Source: The Hill

Key Areas of Focus and Policy Direction

The roadmap outlines key areas for relevant Senate committees to concentrate on regarding AI regulation. These include AI workforce training, addressing AI-generated content such as child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and election content, safeguarding private information and copyrighted content from AI systems, and mitigating the energy costs of AI. Schumer clarified that the roadmap is intended to guide Senators committees in crafting regulation rather than creating sweeping legislation covering all aspects of AI. The Senate Rules Committee has already advanced a series of election-related AI bills, but the diverse nature of AI and varying opinions on regulation suggest that proposals may not progress quickly into law, particularly in an election year.

Funding and Safety Evaluation Framework

The working group urges collaboration with the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure AI funding levels proposed by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI). This funding is intended for AI and semiconductor research and development across the government and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) testing infrastructure. Notably, the roadmap does not mandate safety evaluations for all AI systems before public release but proposes developing a framework to determine when such evaluations are necessary. Additionally, the senators refrain from immediately calling for an overhaul of existing copyright rules, instead suggesting policymakers consider the need for new legislation regarding transparency, content provenance, likeness protection, and copyright.

Response and Criticism

While some, like Adobe’s Dana Rao, view the policy roadmap as a positive step, others express concerns about its feasibility and implications. Amba Kak from AI Now criticizes the proposal’s reliance on a long list of proposals instead of enforceable law and questions the significant taxpayer expense. Rashad Robinson of Color of Change accuses Schumer of not taking AI seriously and warns of the dangers of unchecked AI proliferation. Divyansh Kaushik of Beacon Global Strategies emphasizes the importance of ensuring proper appropriation of funds for legislative efforts to succeed, drawing parallels with past experiences like the CHIPS and Science Act.

Image by DC Studio on Freepik

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